Summary and book reviews of Zero Night by Mark Felton

Zero Night

The Untold Story of World War Two's Greatest Escape

by Mark Felton

Zero Night by Mark Felton X
Zero Night by Mark Felton
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  • Published:
    Aug 2015, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Book Summary

On August 30, 1942 - 'Zero Night' - 40 Allied officers staged the most audacious mass escape of World War II. Told with a novelist's eye for drama and detail, this rip-roaring adventure is all the more thrilling because it really happened.

On August 30, 1942 - 'Zero Night' - 40 Allied officers staged the most audacious mass escape of World War II. Months of meticulous planning and secret training hung in the balance during three minutes of mayhem as the officers boldly stormed the huge double fences at Oflag Prison. Employing wooden ladders and bridges previously disguised as bookshelves, the highly coordinated effort succeeded and set 36 men free into the German countryside. Later known as the 'Warburg Wire Job', fellow prisoner and fighter ace Douglas Bader once described the attempt as 'the most brilliant escape conception of this war'.

The first author to tackle this remarkable story in detail, historian Mark Felton brilliantly evokes the suspense of the escape and the adventures of those escapees who managed to elude the Germans, as well as the courage of the civilians who risked their lives to help them in enemy territory. Fantastically intimate and told with a novelist's eye for drama and detail, this rip-roaring adventure is all the more thrilling because it really happened.

Prologue

A shilling coin jangled insistently inside an empty tin can, followed by someone whispering 'Get out, Doug!' in an urgent hiss. Muttering a stream of oaths under his breath, Doug Crawford quickly reversed out of the narrow tunnel, its wet clay walls lit by a single guttering carbide lamp near the tunnel face.

'Doug, hurry up, the Jerries are on their way!' hissed Captain David Fielding, sitting on the wooden floor of the deserted 'silence hut' next to the camp library. The tunnel was almost finished and Crawford had been working on the vertical shaft below the exit hole when the alarm was given. Somehow, the Germans had found out about the tunnel and were racing towards them across the huge camp, hoping to capture the diggers and their escape hole.

Several other members of the digging team crouched by the tunnel entrance, their faces masks of apprehension. By the window one man was 'stooging', acting as a lookout. Beyond the hut several ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The book contains a fair amount of dialog, which I always find suspect in a work relaying events occurring many years in the past. Overall Zero Night is engaging and entertaining, and anyone with an interest in WWII will find it worth their while. Felton's account is utterly absorbing and is sure to find a wide audience.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Full Review (856 words).

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Media Reviews

History of War
Fans of the film The Great Escape (and frankly who isn't?) will love this book.

Good Book Guide
Action-packed...a fitting tribute to the ingenuity of the escapees and of the brave civilians who subsequently assisted them.

Military History
A fresh light on the POW escape, focusing on the individual stories and characters to create a real' great escape.

Kirkus Reviews
In this exciting book, Felton has captivatingly captured the bravery of the prisoners

The Daily Mail (UK)
This is undeniably history as it should be told and a thundering good read.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Great Escape

Zero Night relates the story of "The Warburg Wire Job," one of several mass escapes from German POW camps during World War II, the most well-known of which was "The Great Escape" from Stalag Luft III on 24-25 March 1944, made famous by the 1963 movie of the same name.

Stalag Luft III was a large prisoner-of-war camp opened in April 1942 in occupied Poland. It eventually covered approximately 60 acres and housed about 1,800 prisoners at the time of the escape.

The Great Escape, as it later became known, was the brainchild of Squadron Leader Roger Bushell. With multiple attempts under his belt, he began planning his next getaway on his arrival at Stalag Luft III in October 1942 – this time envisioning a much larger and more ...

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